||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (December 2007)|
Known as the "American Master of Animated Books", Wehr invented and patented the animated children's book that contained moveable paper parts using tabs, commonly read by children in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Wehr created over 30 animated books. A collection of his work is located at the University of Virginia's Albert and Shirley Small Collections Library, which has a section specializing in children's literature. Titles include Finnie the Fiddler and Noah's Ark.
Although animated books were a great source of pride and family income during the financially difficult years of World War II, Wehr's artistic passion was for sculpting. Trained at the Art Students League in New York City during the ascendance of Picasso and other modern artists, Wehr's work reflects the abstract renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s. His teacher, the noted artist John French Sloan, was a clear influence on Wehr, eschewing realism for the more authentic abstract communication of feeling and subject matter.
Mr. Wehr used a variety of media to communicate his values of racial and social justice, beauty in nature, and the complexity of the human condition. His sculptures in metal painted in simple black and white, such as "Man Woman and Child," articulate the interdependence, yet separateness of the members of the human family at a time when the nuclear family was the ideal of American culture. At a time of the powerful movement for racial equality, Mr. Wehr addressed racial tensions in “Oppression” with its brutal juxtaposition of forms representing the subjection of African Americans in American society. It brings to mind the memorable photographs of police dogs and fire hoses assaulting black schoolchildren in the 1960s.
Mr. Wehr married twice and had four children. He was an adoring father and was happiest when working in his studio and being with his family. He died in 1970 at the age of 72.
Mock-ups, patents, legal documents and other materials documenting Wehr's creations are housed at the University of Virginia Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.
- Bernice E. Cullinan; Diane Goetz Person (26 September 2005). The Continuum Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 563–. ISBN 978-0-8264-1778-7. Retrieved 18 January 2011. "The tab-operated mechanicals worked by means of partially concealed die-cut cards eyeletted between the double-thickness illustrated pages"
- Patricia Hall (19 April 2001). Raggedy Ann and Johnny Gruelle: a bibliography of published works. Pelican Publishing. pp. 146–. ISBN 978-1-56554-123-8. Retrieved 18 January 2011. "Animator Julian Wehr would become well known for his cleverly engineered moveable-picture books, which included The Animated Mother Goose and Puss in Boots"